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East County Wednesday, Apr. 17, 2019 7 months ago

Class act joins new community at Braden River Elementary

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Joshua Bennett, the current principal at William H. Bashaw Elementary, can't wait to get started in his new role.
by: Andrew Atkins Staff Writer

It’s fair to say Courtney Walker, a reading teacher at William H. Bashaw Elementary, is going to miss Principal Joshua Bennett.

“He’s become one of the top principals I’ve ever worked for,” said Walker, who has worked with him since he took the role nine years ago. “We’re going to be sad to see him go, for sure . . . Over time, we have realized he is super goal driven. He just expects the best.”

When Bennett transitions from being the principal at William H. Bashaw Elementary to Braden River Elementary, he will leave behind a legacy of creating friendships and building community among the students, staff and parents. Bennett will be replaced by the Wakeland Elementary principal, Mario Mendoza.

Walker said Braden River Elementary is getting a principal who  makes sure his staff has the resources necessary to do the job and who always is willing to listen.

Bennett said he has been learning as much as he can about Braden River Elementary and part of that process includes visiting and meeting parent groups, staff members and other community members.

“It’s really about becoming part of that community,” Bennett said.

“I have seen him grow into more of a leader and visionary,” said Bashaw Assistant Principal Beth Marshall.

With that vision, she said, comes the planning to turn dreams into reality.

Bennett grew up in Manatee County and moved into education because, he said, “I felt like I could do a greater good.”

Now his days start early, just before 6 a.m., when he heads to the gym. He gets to school by 7:20 a.m., making sure all the classes are covered with personnel and checks that the air conditioning works and the plumbing isn’t backed up.

As the school day starts, he meets with family members as needed before he heads out to see the students. He does the morning news for the school at 8:35 a.m. every day, and then his day opens up to any variety of things.

That might include teacher observations while visiting classes, or working on conferences, among countless other responsibilities.

“It’s just being visible throughout the day,” he said.

Bennett said he’s most proud of his work with teachers and community members to emphasize STEAM — science, technology, engineering, art and math.

For example, students in fifth grade work on a project to create a knee brace. They use science to explore the anatomy, math to determine angles and measurements the brace might require, literature about doctors and science related to the technology, and then engineering to create the device.

“Any school will be fortunate to get him as a leader,” Marshall said.

While Bennett goes to his new job, Marshall hopes the future remains bright at Bashaw.

“I’m looking forward to a different principal seeing the many different things going on here and all the ways we can keep that going,” Marshall said.

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